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Morristown focused on cutting insurance costs and saving fund balance in 2014 town budget

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MORRISTOWN — The Town Council is looking for ways to save money in employee health insurance payments and to increase the town’s fund balance as it prepares the 2014 budget.

Town Supervisor Frank L. Putman said the next meeting, at 6:30 p.m. Monday, will focus on determining whether the town can save money by switching insurance plans for highway department employees and retirees. A public hearing and a vote on the budget are expected Nov. 12.

At Tuesday’s work session the council tentatively approved switching to Humana for retiree health insurance plans. That decision could save more than $10,000 a year for the town.

The $1.4 million proposed budget does not include the use of any money from the town’s fund balance. Mr. Putman said town officials want to avoid doing so after the state advised against it. “When we did the loans for the sewer district” on River Road East, “the state felt that we had been trying to keep our tax rate under by using too much fund balance,” Mr. Putman said.

The town’s fund balance was declining too rapidly for the state’s liking, he said, “and they wanted us to turn that around.”

Mr. Putman said, because the town is not applying any of its fund balance to the 2014 budget, any money it does not spend will go to help boost its reserves.

The town has kept its tax rate at $3.09 per $1,000 of assessed property value for the past three years, but this year the tax rate is expected to increase to close to $3.20.

No raises have been proposed in next year’s budget.

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